Next week will see the beginning of a new chapter in Italian commercial aviation history. Specifically, on October 15th, the country’s existing flag carrier, Alitalia, will be replaced by a new airline. Known as Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), this newly-formed airline will be a completely state-owned enterprise. With a week to go, let’s take a look at its story.
Seven days and counting
Alitalia dates back to September 19th, 1946, when it came to life as Alitalia – Linee Aeree Italiane. Now, more than 75 years later, there are just seven days left before its name is consigned to the history books. This is because the struggling airline is set to cease its operations following years spent in administration.
ITA, whose name stands for Italia Trasporto Aereo (Italy Air Transport), will subsequently take over as the country’s flag carrier. While the Italian Government has only owned Alitalia since March 2020, the new airline will be state-owned (via the Ministry of Economy and Finance) from the very beginning. ITA’s CEO and GM, Fabio Lazzerini, stated in August that:
“We must achieve new and complex goals in view of the launch of operations on October 15th. Numerous projects must be completed in order to create an efficient, sustainable, digital airline, capable of facing future challenges with flexibility, and in full discontinuity with the past.”
An All-Airbus fleet
Simple Flying reported in July that Alitalia’s replacement would be operational by mid-October. With October 15th still touted as the date for the beginning of ITA’s operations, the new carrier remains on track to achieve this. However, the aircraft with which it will do so will not be exactly the same as those flown by Alitalia. Crucially, it will fly an All-Airbus fleet.
This news arose after the new airline signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the European planemaker. This will see it acquire 28 aircraft from the Toulouse-based manufacturer. ITA’s all-Airbus fleet will subsequently have no place for Alitalia’s Boeing 777s or Embraer E-Jets. Christian Scherer, Airbus’s CCO, stated that:
“This is very gratifying and a testimony of the great value of the Airbus product range. It sets a benchmark in driving the decarbonization and efficiency agenda. From the start, we have been working closely with ITA, listening carefully to their requirements. Today we are proud and grateful to be alongside ITA in building its future together.”
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Ready to serve the US
The Italy-US market is key for airlines at either end of this corridor. As such, it was always going to be important that Alitalia’s successor could tap into these high-demand routes. The timing of ITA’s launch is particularly crucial, with the US set to reopen for vaccinated European travelers in November, a month after it commences operations.
September saw the US Department of Transportation clear ITA to operate flights to the country. It will initially fly from Milan to New York and Rome to Boston, New York, and Miami. Additional destinations will join the ITA network in the following years. The announcement came just in time for ITA, and it will be exciting to see it take to the skies.
Are you looking forward to seeing ITA take to the skies next week? What are your best memories of flying with its predecessor Alitalia? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!